Club Fair Rocks MacNeil

By Jack Horsman ’18

To say that this year’s club fair — which was held in MacNeil Lounge on Monday, September 16 — was a success, is a massive understatement.

Students packed the lounge during the club block on Monday to learn and talk about the wide variety of co-curricular offerings this school year.

“I think the club fair went well because any time in our community where we can make space for students… [and see] ideas and plans to come to fruition, that’s a good thing,” Dean of Equity, Inclusion, and Professional Growth Raquel Majeski said.

In previous years the fair was out on the Quad. But this year, in the venerable old lounge, the cacophony created by excited students — and the drum circle club — was amazing.

“I think that the energy was higher because there was a smaller area and everyone was around there,” said Mimi Zahavi, a senior day student from Westford. “Also, because it was in MacNeil it made it easier for people to walk in and out

“I feel like a lot of people showed up and were present,” added Claire Lanzendorf, a senior day student from Sudbury, MA – speaking to the fair’s not having to share the day.

That was the other different about this year’s club fair; it was held during the day in the new “club block” as opposed to after the very memorable, but always tiring Mountain Day.

“We’ve carved out in our schedule this time for clubs and having it during that time was great,” explained Ms. Majeski.  “It was an intentional design oto have that space and that’s awesome.

“I think a good amount of students showed up.”

By our count, nearly half the student body and many, many faculty members, attended the fair. And students enjoyed learning about the many offerings.

“In the past there have been a multitude of clubs that they were serious clubs; [but now] I like that we’ve started with some silly clubs,” added Mimi. “We have Croc club, that’s pretty epic. They just literally trade “jibbets,”

“I think having serious clubs like Umoja and then having Croc club, it’s a good balance,” she concluded.

Hug A Student Leader!

By John Bishop

You can see the uptick in urgency; you can feel it, too.

Here in September (!) — with the first of autumn’s leaves turning color — there’s just something spectacular about seeing students stepping up.

Friendly faces all, here to give a hand to their fellow Spartans (as well as the faculty and staff). All weekend, they prevented nerves from taking center stage.

Even as Mr. Scheibe told new students, “It’s all new… It’s all good,” faculty and staff traversed the campus on Friday’s Athletic Preseason Registration with heightened purpose.

Summer was over and there was a necessary rise in the timbre of activity from the adults, all of whom were working their hardest to make the first few moments on campus as comfortable as possible for new and returning families.

But there, in the middle of it all, were Lawrence Academy’s student leaders — peer counselors, proctors, ambassadors, and Elm Tree Society members — ready to steady the hand of any nervous freshman (or uptight adult).

“Not only have the student leaders helped welcome and ground new students and families, they’ve made ME feel both comfortable and excited heading from summer into the school year. What a welcome and welcoming sight!”

Head of School, Dan Scheibe

As a result, this past weekend’s welcoming activities, practices, and — yes — there was some downtime, went off without a hitch. To which Mrs. Margraf, LA’s assistant head of school, this morning mused via email:

“If you see a student leader on campus, (decorated in tie-dye today), please give them a huge shout” out! They are working incredibly hard!”

Assistant Head of School, Libby Margraf

We’re all proud. But, honestly, nobody is surprised.

This is what LA leaders do: they rise to the occasion. But here in September (!) with the first of autumn’s leaves turning color, there’s just something spectacular about seeing all of the kids — and they are kids — stepping up to give a hand to their fellow students, as well as the faculty and staff.

Thank you, guys! #GoLASpartans!

It’s All New… It’s All Good

By John Bishop

Head of School Dan Scheibe told a packed Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center (that’s RMPAC for you newbies), “It’s all new… It’s all good.”

An important message for everyone attending Athletic Preseason Registration to be sure; after all, each person in the building — parent/guardian or student-athlete — is preparing for another school year. Some boarding, some day. Some varsity. Some JV. Some nervous. Some confident. All (secretly) hoping they’re ready for an unknown 2019-2020.

However, there were the words on the screen: It’s All New… It’s All Good

Sad to be leaving home/student? NBD. It’s not goodbye. Instead, “It’s ‘Hello, until the next time we see you,'” said Mr. Scheibe. Nervous? Anxious? New or returning? “That’s good energy… Use it,” emphasized LA’s Head.

“I think what it’s really important to capture, and we’ll do this a few different ways while we’re still feeling new, is just that sense of renewal and energy that you get at the beginning of a school year,” he said. “And for those of us who have repeated that cycle — basically our entire lives — there’s nothing like it.”

However, the uniqueness of that cycle isn’t because of the required renewal. It’s unique because of what it anticipates.

“Yes, there’s a lot of new and different stuff happening, but… the most important thing that happens in a human’s life happens in a school year,” said Dan. “That’s developing your sense of who you are, becoming, we are going to become and getting this incredible sense of empowerment. “

Perhaps sensing the necessary juxtaposition between the Head of School before them, and the first-year students sitting in the audience, Dan brought out pictures of his own initial moments in prep school.

“At the same time [as we begin anew], we know we’re also becoming something else and somebody else,” said Dan. “So just to kind of make that point, please go to the next, uh, horrific slide.”

There stood young Dan Scheibe, like all new students, unaware of where he’d be 37 years later; carrying the benefit and the burden of “potential” – and, admittedly, all nerves in the moment.

“That’s the energy of you looking forward to something and about to become something,” said Scheibe, pointing to the teen in well-branded athletic gear. “There is a universality to it.”

So, whether it’s your first year at LA or your 38th, best wishes to everyone in the community during the 2019 – 2020.

#FBF: Reminiscing About “The Judith French Poetry Recitation”

Back in 2013, fresh after seeing his first “Judith French Poetry Recitation,” Mr. Bishop wrote about the experience. With today being the day for the 2019 event, we thought it a good time to hit the flashback button to 2013…

LA the Big Winner After Class of 2014’s Poetry Recitation

My own stomach rolled nervously as I watched finalists prepare for their performances in the auditorium.

That retrograde (regurgitate?) emotion—fueled, no doubt, by repressed memories bearing images of regrettable attempts at acting and public speaking throughout my academic career—was further fueled by my new colleagues joking that new faculty are often asked to recite poems during the program and I would be next up on stage (to which I remarked my selection would be short and entitled “I Quit.”).

 

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Franchesca Kiesling ’14

 

However, it was no joking matter to the 10 Lawrence Academy students who took the stage to entertain and enlighten their classmates and teachers during last Wednesday’s Judith French Junior Poetry Recitation Competition.

With selections from Gwendolyn Brooks’ “Primer for Blacks” to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” to Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, a wide swath of English verse stood as testament to the diversity of Lawrence’s student body as well as the breadth of their interests.

“I’m not so sure that the piece itself spoke to me with its story, so much as its language and sound did,” said Conrad Solomon of his poem by Poe. “Although the story does touch me emotionally, I find “Annabel Lee” to be almost like a piece of music that is pleasing to the ear.”

And, far from being immobilized by nerves, some of the finalists spoke about the empowerment inherent in the competition.

“Strangely enough, I found this process very enjoyable,” said Jonathan Mangini, who recited Jack Gilbert’s “Once Upon A Time”.

“For me, it was almost a treat to be able to recite poetry and bring about art to a whole school environment.

“Although, I’d have to say that I was most nervous in the classroom setting,” he added.

Jonny wasn’t the only member of the class of ’14 who found a certain amount of terror while looking into the eyes of their classmates.

“With 15 people staring at you [in the students’ individual classes], you feel and hear and see all the eyes staring you down and every minute gesture being done,” explained Franchesca Kiesling, who performed “Magic” by Gabriel Gadfly. “In front of 400, your eyes get lost in the crowd; you don’t see everyone as another pair of eyes, but as just another face.

“I must admit that beforehand I definitely had some nervous energy to expel, but once up there, it was easy.”

Franchesca, who could be seen frenetically reciting her lines to herself prior to the event, might have found it easy to calm down during the proceedings, however, it wasn’t so easy for everyone in the crowd to stem the strain.

“Yes, I do get nervous for the students as they perform,” admitted Mark Haman, long-time Lawrence English teacher and the afternoon’s master of ceremonies. “I will have seen each of them recite at least once before and have a sense of the possibilities for each.

“Some of the performers are my students, and for them I feel an especial concern, having seen them work hard throughout the stages of preparation. I worry about the distractions…[and] I worry about the gap between performers as the judges write their notes, aware that extending the wait for the remaining performers can only aggravate their nervousness.

“I don’t especially worry about the audience being restless, because nearly twenty years of these events has reassured me that many people, adults and students alike, feel that the recitation is one of the highlights of the school year,” he said.

After the recitation, Haman’s feelings seemed universal around campus, and even the highly competitive contestants were glad to see everyone’s performance rise to the occasion.

“What stood out particularly to me was the high caliber of poems that were recited…and how much courage it took for some of my classmates to get up on stage and recite their poems with gusto,” said Sebastian Sidney after his recitation of Brooks’ poetry. “This competition will always have a special place in my heart.”

But not all of the contestants—particularly the eventual winner—can actually recall their recital.

“I won’t remember reciting the poem itself,” Franchesca said. “It just came and went.

“But I’ll remember the slight nod of my head signifying I was finished and hearing everyone love it. That is my most favorite feeling.”

However, even though Kiesling’s recitation was adjudged the favorite, while she reviewed her own memories of the three competitions she’d witnessed since matriculating at Lawrence, Franchesca echoed the sentiments of many who witnessed the 2013 competition.

“Freshman year I thought it was so cool, and I had always wanted to do it,” she said. “Sophomore year I still thought the same thing, and I also thought of how brave everyone was.

“I think this year was the best of all though,” added Franchesca. “Our class owned this poetry recitation and if I was the judge, I’d let us all win.”

Elm Tree Press: Boarding at LA

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By Kevin Weaver ’20

When I first knew I was coming to Lawrence Academy, my biggest worry was boarding.

Throughout my life, I had never spent a lot of time away from my family, so living on appropriately accommodatedcampus for the next four school years seemed like it would be the toughest thing I would ever have to do in my life.

But this big change of living in an entirely new environment quickly became one of my favorite things about Lawrence Academy. On the first weekend on campus, I remember making some of my closest friends and haven’t worried about boarding since…

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Whenever someone asks me about weekends at Lawrence Academy, I always tell them there is never a dull weekend on campus. Every week, Lawrence Academy creates a packed lineup of activities that spread across a wide range of offerings.

Some of my favorite activities from my past three years have been: football and snacks in MacNeil lounge – always a great way to decompress on Sundays; mall trips – where I have made some of my favorite memories; movie trips – it’s always great to see the latest movies with friends; and open houses in the dorms – it’s so much fun to make new friends in another dorm.

And these are just four of the many activities that make weekends at LA seem like endless fun.

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One of the best part about boarding is that Lawrence Academy really makes sure that boarding students are accommodated properly.

In the past, whenever I have needed anything on or off campus, faculty members have done all they could to help me. This includes times as simple as when my advisor drove me to CVS or the grocery store.

However, few times have been as memorable as when my doorknob stopped working.

It was my sophomore year, and my doorknob wouldn’t turn all the way, so unless I left my door open, I was locked out of my room. When I told Mr. Gagnon, the faculty member on duty that night, he said to me that he’d help when he was done checking people in.

So, when he was done, he came down to my room to see what he could do to help.

When we realized that this was something we couldn’t just solve with our bare hands, we borrowed a screwdriver from a friend and began to take apart the doorknob. While lead by a YouTube video, we ended up taking the doorknob off completely before realizing that there wasn’t much more we could do, and the smart move was to notify our Building and Grounds team.

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Even though we walked away unsuccessful, I remember thinking about how fortunate I am to be part of a community where people will do whatever they can to help me, even if it means getting back to their wife and kids past midnight.

That’s the kind of community I love being a part of…